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Steven C. Wyer: Has Google Suspended Informal Defamation Removal Request Policy
Since its inception, Google has held that ...
Steven C. Wyer has seen firsthand how the Internet can harm a person’s life and livelihood.
Countless individuals each day...
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Steven C. Wyer: Has Google Suspended Informal Defamation Removal Request Policy

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According to Steven C. Wyer, Google seems to have recently reverted back to its official policy and has stopped honoring all but a few requests.

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Steven C. Wyer: Has Google Suspended Informal Defamation Removal Request Policy

  1. 1. Steven C. Wyer: Has Google Suspended Informal Defamation Removal Request Policy Since its inception, Google has held that it does not remove defaming material from its eponymous search engine, says Steven C. Wyer. However, until recently, a vast majority of these removal requests were honored when accompanied by documents supporting the defamation claim. According to Steven C. Wyer, Google seems to have recently reverted back to its official policy and has stopped honoring all but a few requests. Search engines and other types of online services are immune from liability for libel or defamation as outlined in the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, affirms Steven C. Wyer. This is in stark contrast to printed content published in newspapers, magazines, and books. Steven C. Wyer says Google’s de facto policy of removing false-negative material has been a godsend to victims of unwarranted online persecution. Some attorneys speculate that Google’s reluctance to remove information is a silent form of protest against censorship as this move comes at the end of an unusually acrimonious political race, says Steven C. Wyer, who doesn’t agree with this theory. Google has yet to make an official statement outlining the sudden shift to inactivity. Steven C. Wyer suspects it’s partly motivated due to the high cost of doing so. Removing data is expensive and becomes a low priority for a business that is not legally obligated to comply. Google processes countless URL removal requests every year, Wyer points out, and maintains a staff to review these requests. Should Google, Bing, and others be immune from defamation removal demands? Steven C. Wyer says that’s a tricky question. There is no real answer that Steven C. Wyer believes will appease either side – the search engines or the public. On one hand, search engines have become the Internet. If a piece of content is not searchable within Google, it may as well not exist in the first place, acknowledges Steven C. Wyer. On the flipside, many people consider the Internet a place where free speech should be just as honored as in the “real world.” Victims of defamatory content claim that having the ability to remove the connection from the search engine to the public has been a singular source of relief, Steven C. Wyer reports. Google suggests that character assassination victims go directly to the webmaster of the site of the originating content, says Steven C. Wyer. While this might work for some, if the website at the source of the misinformation is also immune under the CDA, the materials can be legally left online for perpetuity. Unfortunately, laments Steven C. Wyer, no one is safe from unwarranted attacks on the Internet. What’s even more distressing is the human cost of these attacks that often go far beyond what the perpetrator intended in the first place. As the CEO of Third Coast Interactive, Inc. (3Ci), a digital branding firm specializing in online reputation repair and management,
  2. 2. Steven C. Wyer has seen firsthand how the Internet can harm a person’s life and livelihood. Countless individuals each day are thrown under the proverbial bus by anonymous customers, rival businesses, and even former love interests. Steven C. Wyer concludes that Google’s recent activity makes it more difficult than ever for an individual or business to react to unwarranted negative information. He stresses that from this point forward preemptive activities are perhaps the best course of action for everyone wishing to take control of their online presence. Third Coast Interactive has helped hundreds of individuals and corporations take a proactive role in how they are viewed online. For more information about Steven C. Wyer and 3Ci’s services, visit 3Ci.agency.

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